WICHITA, KS – Midwest Dance Mechanix is bringing the holiday magic of the Short and Suite Nutcracker performance to your home. Due to Covid restrictions, Midwest Dance Mechanix had to quickly pivot from their annual in-theatre performance to a virtual at-home film and experience. Despite the incredible challenges and timeline, owner Jana Owen and her staff were determined that THE SHOW MUST GO ON!
About the Show
For $25 per family and with a run time of approximately 60 minutes, experience the beauty, artistry and magic of this classic holiday ballet from the comfort of your own home. Additionally, enjoy special bonus “Behind the Curtain Suite Peeks”, cast & choreographer interviews, and more! Watch from any device or on your Smart TV via YouTube.
Featuring the breathtaking Snow Scene choreography of local ballet legend, Stan Rogers, as well as whimsical original choreography by Jana Owen, this Nutcracker is abbreviated in length but certainly not short on quality, professionalism, and pure holiday magic!
Located in the heart of Wichita, Midwest Dance Mechanix offers over 140 dance classes per week. Form your child’s first twirl in a tutu to their final graduation performance, we offer the technical training and life skills to help each student discover their own potential. Our experienced and credentialed instructors pride themselves on helping kids not only become great dancers, but also great people! From weekly technique classes to fun summer camps to high level Master classes and workshops, Midwest Dance Mechanix offers something for everyone… even adults! Dancers performing in the Short & Suite Nutcracker are members of the MDM Competition Company and/or En Avant Youth Ballet Company.
The show must go on! Many of our favorite holiday traditions will look a little different this year – including these fun events, concerts, and shows that will offer online viewing instead of in-person attendance.
Some are free while other require the purchase of a ticket – so be sure to plan ahead!
The shop’s College Hill location will once again have a mail box collecting letters to Santa. Drop by ASAP to grab the perfect gifts and stocking stuffers and to make sure your kids get a response in time for Christmas – suggested $5 donations will be given to a local charity.
Located near the gazebo in the Cambridge Market shopping center, this mail box is specifically for letters to Santa! Moms report that letters will receive a response if dropped off in the first 2 weeks of December!
Before you attend Illuminations with your family, print off this letter from their website & fill it out. There is a mail box on site for you to drop them off (walk-through only). Parents can also print off a certificate to verify your child has been placed on the “Nice List!”
Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of global pandemic can stop Santa from his annual trip around the globe! Want to keep up with him as Rudolph guides the team from the North Pole to a Christmas tree near you? Check out these free apps & websites!
For over 60 years on Christmas Eve the North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) has tracked jolly old St. Nick as he circles Earth – and 2020 will be no different! Kids can call 1-877-Hi-NORAD to get real-time updates on Santa’s location or visit their website here.
November 14-January 30. Walk-through: $13 Adults $9 Children and Members. Drive-Through: $20/car Sun-Thurs, $25 Fri-Sat. This year Botanica will have a walk-thru & drive-thru experience! Two great ways to enjoy Illuminations. You can pick one or do both! All tickets must be purchased online in advance.
Storytime: Tots, Tales & Tunes
Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. $3 Member, $12 Adults, $9 Youth, includes admission to the gardens. Come to the Botanica gardens for a musical storytime that will engage your tot with rhythmic stories, fingerplays, songs and sunshine! Classes will be held outdoors, weather permitting. Bring a picnic blanket and a snack to complete the morning! Thursdays at 10:30 a.m.
Please Note :: While we make every effort to crosscheck current links and event details on our guides, we always encourage you to do the same before making final plans. If details are missing or incorrect, please let us know so that we can make every attempt to correct them.
November 2020 – Fulton Valley Farms A Very Country Christmas Event begins Saturday, November 27th in Towanda, KS and runs every weekend through December 22nd. Stroll the wooded paths decorated with over 800,000 twinkling lights synchronized to traditional Christmas music. Enjoy Santa, reindeer, live nativity, Clydesdale horses, cocoa, and more.
Fulton Valley Farms has put safety precautions in place and will be communicating updated information to their social media channels. Masks are required and no lap photos with Santa this year (but you can still tell him your Christmas wishes).
Enjoy walking the farm as it’s draped in festive Christmas lights and decorated throughout. Watch the light show and celebrate the season with holiday festivities. Visit with Santa, meet the reindeer, see a living nativity vignette, check out the wagon tiny village display, take sleigh photos, visit the children’s hay maze and ice castle, and more.
General Admission Tickets: $7 per person
Kids ages 3 and under are FREE
Order tickets online or pay at the gate when you arrive
*Hot chocolate, decorated Christmas Cookies, and popcorn are available for purchase
Friday, Saturday, Sundays 6-9 pm
November 27th-December 22nd *The Broken Spoke Clydesdales will be in attendance on 11/27, 11/28, 12/4, 12/6, 12/13, 12/18, 12/19, and 12/20
November 2020 – The Chicken N Pickle Outdoor Ice Skating Rink is officially open on November 27th, 2020. Located at 1240 N Greenwich Road, this outdoor entertainment space is turned into an ice skating rink. The Ice Pond at the Plazzio will be open to the public and ready for winter fun Thanksgiving weekend (closed Thanksgiving day).
Chicken N Pickle is Wichita’s unique indoor/outdoor entertainment and dining complex.
We encourage you to check Chicken N Pickle social media pages before you head out for a visit to better understand covid restrictions.
Monday – Friday 11:00 am — 10:00 pm
Saturday 10:00 am — 10:00 pm
Sunday 10:00 am — 9:00 pm
Skate with Santa Saturdays. Special guest Santa will be at the ice pond on December 5th, 12th, and 19th from 10am-12pm.
Skate Pass: $10
Skate Rental: $3
Kids 3 and Under FREE
Special Holiday Events
Skate & Donate to benefit Toys 4 Tots: November 28th
Feast with the Grinch: December 1st
Skate with Santa Saturdays: December 5th, 12th, and 19th
Wichita Children’s Theatre Christmas Show: December 5th
If there’s one thing I learned after being cooped up at home so much, it’s that the easiest things seem to entertain my children the most. As we debated how to handle Halloween, I decided instead of trick or treating we would do a candy hunt in the cul-de-sac. At first I thought I was being clever, but then I realized this activity had become my go to during COVID-19.
Between March and October last year we had five different themed hunts and my five year old and seven year old loved every single one of them. We found that it was a fun and easy way to burn off energy while adding some anticipation and excitement to constantly being home.
We started with searching for gold coins to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and then followed up with an Easter Egg hunt. We mixed it up a bit doing some eggs with candy and some eggs with exercises like pushups and jumping jacks. A neighbor then wanted to provide some fun for the kids and created a hunt for Pokémon cards and coloring books based on clues he wrote up. We helped the kids read them and they ran from spot to spot looking for their prizes.
Another neighbor randomly had 125 rubber duckies that we hid in the cul-de-sac for the ultimate duck hunt. I’m telling you, the easiest things can be the most fun.
We then rounded out October with a candy hunt. They may not have been running from door to door trick or treating, but at least they were running around which made mom happy and they ended up with lots of candy which made them happy. We do keep things even, so each kid is given the chance to find the same number of items.
Once I realized this formula worked so well, I started brainstorming more ideas. Luckily we have some nicer winter days in Kansas, so I do plan to get them out hunting this winter. Here are some of my plans.
Who doesn’t have a zillion tiny toys whether dinos, match box cars, animals or action figures laying around!
Glow Stick Hunt
Around dusk go and hide glow sticks throughout your yard. Give them a glow necklace to get started and watch them light up with the rest of what they find.
If they have access to a camera, give the kids a list of things to find in the yard to take a picture of to show you afterwards.
Hot Cocoa Hunt
Before warming up with hot chocolate, send them outside to find the ingredients like baggies of marshmallows, mugs and the hot chocolate mix. You could also do this with s’mores if you have fire pit.
As you can see, pretty much anything goes! Keeping it easy for you and fun for them is a win for everyone, and we can all use a win these days!
Winter evokes a time of calm and retreat. When I think of winter, I think about books being read under cozy blankets and cups of coffee warming hands and souls. I think about the joy of snow adventures with my kids, warm baths, knitted hats, and gloves. I also think about Christmas when I think of winter, but that is something new to me: the white and chili Christmas has been a real thing for my family -and not just a thing you see in the movies- only for the last three years!
I love winter. In fact, I love all the four seasons and the rhythm that they set in nature and in ourselves. In that space, I see winter as the time that makes grow an inner force that is going to be visible only the following spring. A time of pause and quiet to prepare for the blossom of life. I love winter and I look forward to its beginning every single year.
1. Winter starts twice each a year
Yes, you read it well. The first day of winter it’s when the winter solstice occurs, that is when one of the Earth’s poles is most tilted away from the sun. This happens twice every year: one time for each hemisphere. Here in the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs on December 21st, but for the southern hemisphere, the first day of winter is June 21st.
2. The first day of winter is the shortest day of the year
The winter solstice day is the shortest day of the year, the one when we are going to have the least amount of sunlight. The good news is that everything is going to brighten up from now on!
Last winter solstice was the shortest one ever in my whole life: we were in Alaska visiting our friends, and that day sunrise happened after 8 am and sunset at 3 pm! As we were closer to the North Pole, everything changed faster and two weeks later the sky was still clear at 5 pm.
3. The first day of winter is not the coldest day (but could be)
Even when the first day of winter it’s the shortest day of the year and the one that gets the least amount of warm energy from the sun, usually it isn’t until the middle of January that we get the coldest temperatures. However, scientists say that the coldest day of the year could be anyone between the middle of December and the middle of January, so technically it is possible that the coldest day and the shortest one could be the same.
4. There are two kinds of winter
There are two different kinds of winter: the astronomical winter and the meteorological winter, and both of them start on a different day.
For astronomers, winter starts with the winter solstice, but for meteorologists, things are a little different: they deal with temperatures and snowstorms. They need to be able to compare temperatures for the same month each year, so it makes sense that for them, winter starts on December 1st and finishes at the end of February when the warm temperatures begin.
5. The winter solstice was considered once the end of winter (and not its start!)
That sounds crazy! At least, the first time you learn about it, it’s kind of non-sense. But is it?
For many ancient cultures, winter represented death and danger, as they struggled to survive during winter. For them, a sign that winter was ending was a reason for celebration and a moment of spiritual rejoice. If we think that after the winter solstice, days only grow longer, it makes sense to think that the worst had happened. So when they celebrated the winter solstice, they weren’t celebrating that winter was coming but that winter was ending.
There are some archaeological sites that researches think were built to celebrate the winter solstice: probably Stonehenge in England is one of the more well known, but there are similar monuments in Ireland, Scotland, and Germany in Europe and other closer to us, like in Tulum, Mexico, and Nazca, Peru.
6. You can’t see the winter solstice
Technically, we are not able to “see” the solstice but, it is possible to see its effects.
We are able to notice how sunlight hours have been decreasing and after the winter solstice, they start to increase again. Also, your shadow at midday is going to be its longest during the winter solstice. You can take advantage of this and shoot a great picture of your long dreamed legs!
7. If you live in Wichita, you can experience the winter solstice at its fullest.
All you need to do to have an amazing winter solstice experience in Wichita is to visit our own “Stonehenge”, the Solar Calendar in Riverside Park, just a short walk from the Riverside Wild Exhibit.
Big yellow rocks beautifully decorated are standing in a circle, aligned with the movement of our sun. There is an enigmatic and mysterious blue eye atop one of them. In the middle of this stone structure, three ground stones are precisely located, containing each one a medallion with a central glassy surface piece on it. At noon, during some very special days along the year, the sunbeams pass through the blue eye and hit directly on the central piece of the medallions. “Utterly charming” and “great teaching device” are the words that Clonehenge -the blog with the most complete list of Stonehenge’s replicas in the world- uses to describe our local solar calendar.
You guessed well, one of these very special days is December 21st (and the others are June 21st, September 22nd, and March 21st). I know this is pure science, but for me is also kind of magical. And probably I’m not the only one that thinks like this!
To complete the experience, you may want to pay a visit to Leslie Coffee Co.or Reverie Coffee Roasters at the downtown library for a cup of delicious hot cocoa for you and your family.
The first day of winter is a special day, one that had been celebrated since the beginnings of the human race. It’s a day of very long shadows, a late sunrise, and an early sunset. During the first day of winter, you have the chance to see how a sunbeam goes through an enigmatic blue eye atop a stone and hit a crystal in the center of a medallion in the ground. And in case you needed something else, you are a short ride away from delicious hot cocoa. That, my friends, makes the first day of winter an amazing day!
What a year this has been! I was filled with such optimism at the beginning of the year after 2019 left me feeling a bit weary. My mindset was positive, and I was eager to look forward to a new decade.
When life as we knew it started to unravel just after the start of the year, my positive mindset began to weaken and transitioned to a realistic mindset. As life came to a screeching halt, and the dust settled, I started looking for lessons that you, dear 2020, were teaching me. Some have been life-altering, and others more lighthearted, but I’m determined to salvage this dumpster fire.
You’ve taught me that plans are a luxury, not a necessity. When school came to an abrupt stop in March, it caused great anxiety to everyone I knew. It took so much strength to get through each day, juggling suddenly working from home, managing crisis schooling, and trying to stay afloat. Then this Fall, when we suddenly had to self-isolate due to exposure, my son and I quickly adjusted to yet another “new normal.” Thanks to the many opportunities to pivot, we have learned resilience.
You’ve allowed me to breathe. Initially when the world came to a stop, I wasn’t sure how to handle all of the changes that were happening at once. I loved that our busy family schedule suddenly became empty. I had often lamented the busy-ness of our family, and I could feel like I could finally take a deep, cleansing breath. I took stock of relationships, activities, priorities, and ways to spend my time. This pause button on life allowed me to space to evaluate and reincorporate the activities and relationships that generated life to me and those around me. When we decided to cancel our summer vacation, we came up with ways to make new family memories with day trips to socially distanced destinations and celebrating the simple life instead of pursuing a big week long vacation.
You’ve allowed me to reach out when I’m struggling. Everyone in the world was in some way affected by the circumstances of this pandemic. I’ve heard it said, “Everyone is experiencing the same storm, but not everyone is in the same boat.” Whew, if that isn’t the truth, I don’t know what is! I know plenty of people who talk about living their best lives during this year with less on the schedule, more time at home, and plenty of time to explore nature and have no FOMO since nothing is going on. I also know plenty of people who have been personally affected by COVID-19, either by losing loved ones, jobs, or both. The impacts of this storm are so individualized, but thankfully I have learned that it is so important to reach out. I’ve established some new patterns of behavior that include mental health check-ins with a few trusted people.
You’ve helped me take social media with a grain of salt. Social media can be used as a great way to shine lights on the best parts of society. Seeing people mobilize to support front-liners was inspiring, and helped those of us staying home to do our part. However, it has also served to provide a platform for division and breed reasons for distrust and a method for stirring the proverbial pot while sharing information that might be full of half-truths or misinformation. I’ve learned the importance of seeking out information from reputable sources, and that much of what we see on social media may not be accurate. I’ve relegated my social media accounts to be more of a virtual scrapbook, a place to post updates on my life in order to stay connected with those near and far, and find out about local events, but not to use it as a primary source for information.
You’ve introduced me to the importance of being comfortable. Since I’ve started working from home for the first time in my career, I’ve never been more comfortable in my life. I’ve found a few pair of exercise leggings with pockets that have become my uniform. I throw on a plain tee shirt, cardigan, and earrings, and I’m ready for back-to-back Zooms. I also realized that I’ve been missing out in my adult life on wearing pajamas that double as clothes. I found some wide legged, soft, black pants, and a baggy gray shirt that have served as my outfit to pick kids up from practice on more than one occasion. I can say that 2020 will not be the last year that I consider comfort over fashion.
You’ve re-connected me to people that I love. Since there was so much unknown this year, and visits in person with loved ones was not possible, I loved thinking outside of the box to stay connected to loved ones. My family established family Zoom sessions several times a month. I had happy hours with friends in different states over Zoom, and it almost felt like a girls night out!
The fact that 20/20 is perfect vision is not lost on me. As the year comes to a close, I hope and pray that my vision for my life has improved through this challenging year.
It won’t be long till school is out, which means the kids are excited (but soon-to-be bored), and moms are going to scramble to fill those empty days on the calendar. Wichita Mom is here to help! Check out our posts on fun things to do in (and even out!) of Wichita in winter, as well as special events taking place over winter break. Did we miss something? Comment below, and we’ll add it to the list!
Be sure to check out each location for safety/covid19 precautions and updated schedules.
Pumpkin? Apple? Gluten-free and vegan? Here’s where to find the perfect pies for your holiday meals this season. Some bakeries require pre-order while others offer grab & go desserts – so make sure you plan ahead!
It is no surprise to anyone that I have a big soft spot for animals. I grew up around animals and always seemed to find a way to bring them home with me. When I was six, I found a cat on my way home from school. When I was ten, I rescued and took home two kittens who were stuck in a boat, while our family was visiting Lake of the Ozarks. So when I turned fourteen, I thought it would be great to work at a veterinary hospital. The hospital I worked at was often brought animals who were found hurt and needed help. I worked in almost every area of the hospital that a teenager could, and I learned a lot about caring for animals. This is where the passion of fostering and adopting animals started for me. I can’t guarantee that my parents were always happy when an animal came home though. As the promise to only foster the animal for a few weeks turned into months and then years. I typically did not stop at just one animal, but I knew that I alone could not help them all.
Ways You Can Help
What I have found is that many people have a passion to help animals and don’t know how. You may also have children who want a pet but you are not sure that they are ready to care for an animal or understand how much work is involved. I would highly encourage you or your family to volunteer or even foster an animal. There are so many wonderful organizations available to do either of these things. As a volunteer, you can walk and play with the animals at the shelter. You can make beds or toys for the animals to play with. You can visit them and just show them affection. The next time you are having a bad day, try stopping by the shelter and just playing with an animal! I promise it will help.
Are you a dog or a cat person? Or are guinea pigs and rabbits for you? There are animals everywhere and of all ages and sizes. If you are in love with a certain breed, organizations can help match you with an animal or even notify you when one is available. Most organizations will more likely match you up with an animal that matches your lifestyle. I can tell you though, if you visit the animal, you will fall in love with it. Even if it isn’t your perfect match of breed, color and age you had in mind.
Are you looking to volunteer, foster or adopt? Check out these local options:
Finding the right stocking stuffers is just as challenging as tracking down all the best gifts! Here are 10 of our favorite locally-owned Wichita shops with goodies for everyone on your list:
Imagine That Toys
This local, independent Wichita toy store is a go-to for parents and grandparents when it comes to finding the perfect gift. Customer service is top-notch and gift wrapping is free all year round. Whether you are looking for babies, big kids or in-between, you are sure to find tons of fun items to stuff in those stockings!
With four locations throughout Wichita, Dandurand Drugs offers a variety of collectibles and unique items. Stationary, jewelry, candles, cards and more are available for holiday and special occasion gifts.
Rocket Fizz is a “soda pop and candy shop” located on Greenwich Road. They carry a large selection of bottled soda and candy. They also have nostalgia and pop culture items, old-fashioned candies and gag gifts.
Nifty Nut House
A family owned business since the 1930’s, Nifty Nut House is a Wichita snack-food staple. Along with their varieties of nuts, chocolates, candies and dried fruits and veggies, they also offer special-occasion treats for baby showers, graduations and holidays.
If you’re looking for stocking stuffers for adult friends and family, Lucinda’s is the place to go. They carry items like grown-up socks, oven mitts and coasters, jewelry and accessories, books, puzzles and games. They have Wichita and Kansas merchandise, too!
The Explore Store
I’ve actually found some of my kids’ favorite gifts at Explore Store inside of Exploration Place! My son’s beloved bow and arrow, stuffed Kermit The Frog and our fovorite Mr. Food Face plates all came from Explore Store. Many educational snd scientific toys can be found here and there is no admission fee to shop. Your purchase will support Exploration Place.
The Spice Merchant
Wichita’s locally-owned gourmet coffee roaster has been doing business in ICT for over 35 years. You will find coffees, cooking ingredients, gifts, salsas, spices and preserves. If you have any coffee or tea-loving people in your life, make a stop at The Spice Merchant.
Love Of Character
An adorable shop that provides party supplies, gifts, paper goods and even a space for fun events such as birthday parties and baby showers? Bring on all the balloons, tassels, toys and designer tumblers, please! An online site is also available if you prefer to shop for your stocking stuffers online.
If you’re searching for handcrafted and local items, a collective of “Midwest Makers” boasts so many unique and thoughtful gifts. This is a collaboration between a group of Midwest makers under one roof in Clifton Square. What a great way to support local businesses with your purchases!
A wonderful option for all kinds of local shopping! The Workroom provides sewing services, home furnishings, accessories, gifts, artwork and vintage finds. Many of the products sold are made by Wichita area artists. They have tons of Wichita flag swag to make it easy to represent the great city of Wichita.
Where have you found your favorite local stocking stuffers?